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Can one patent life and living organisms?

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Monsanto is imposing a cost upon the farmer against the farmer's consent, because the farmer ordinarily saves seed to plant the next season's crop instead of buying them. This is an initiation of force.

If farmers were allowed to just use any seeds that resulted from any accidental contamination, in any way they see fit, that would effectively remove the control Monsanto has of their intellectual property.

They can't stop the wind and the bees, that is a naturally occurring phenomenon. The role of the Courts is to prevent both sides from exploiting it. Having the farmers keep the harvest, but not allowing them to further use the strain for free, is an acceptable solution.

It's not true that this means farmers have something stolen from them by Monsanto, or that they are forced to buy the seeds from them. They can simply sell the Monsanto crops they harvested, and use the money to buy non-Monsanto seeds from a neighbor. It's an inevitable inconvenience for the farmers (and for Monsanto too), but it's not initiation of force by either side.

As for the legal costs, once the precedents have been set, there is no reason for farmers who can't afford to pay for their own lawyers to challenge them. They can just respect the precedent, and not re-seed the Monsanto crops.

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Mod Note:  Merged from topic "Patenting genetically modified seeds"

 

 

Should it be allowed? To me, it seems like a simple application of the principle of (intellectual) property rights, and that the answer is Yes. 

Edited by JASKN

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Mod Note:  Merged from topic "Patenting genetically modified seeds"

 

 

Should it be allowed? To me, it seems like a simple application of the principle of (intellectual) property rights, and that the answer is Yes. 

Agreed. 

 

Issues surrounding living things and their spread, be they dangerous, beneficial, patented, or annoying is a separate issue from patentability per se.

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Iplaydrums:

I don't think patent laws are proper, personally, but if they are then they apply to organisms just as much as anything else.

You cannot own people because that's slavery. Ergo you can't patent people either, regardless of how they're created.

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Jake:

If farmers are expected to know the genetic lineage of every pollenated seed (ie omniscience), or else renew their contract each season, then they have no choice but to continue paying Monsanto.

The alternative sets a standard that no human being could ever satisfy.

Do you know the ancestry of every blade of grass on your lawn? If I held you legally accountable for that, how would that impact your pursuit of happiness?

Monsanto has taken the "free rider problem" seriously and is, in effect, legally extorting people for the benefits they have involuntarily recieved.

---

The company has many good qualities. They've done amazing things for agriculture and they don't deserve the extent of the slander they're given by the eco-statists.

But their legal strategy involves blatant coercion.

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If farmers are expected to know the genetic lineage of every pollenated seed (ie omniscience)

You have any proof of that ridiculous claim? Or are you just continuing on with the hyperbole strategy? Edited by Nicky

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You have any proof of that ridiculous claim? Or are you just continuing on with the hyperbole strategy?

 

They've been sued for the fact that plants with patented genes have ended up growing on their property, dude.  There is no way to avoid that without knowing exactly what pollen has landed on which earshoots.

 

Farmers grow corn, which pollenates someone's earshoots somewhere and gets pollenated the same way; it's all dust in the wind.  And unless you're a geneticist there is no possible way to know whether you're harvesting patented corn or not.

 

I've based these assertions on the summers I've spent working for Monsanto.  If you'd like I can post my W-2's with the disclaimer that I'm not actually a geneticist or a lawyer or a farmer who's been sued.

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You have any proof of that ridiculous claim? Or are you just continuing on with the hyperbole strategy?

It is not a ridiculous claim.  A farmer cannot control the wind or what blows onto his property with that wind.  If Monsanto wants to exercise strict control over its intellectual property rights it should be required to reimburse the farmer for expenses incurred in removing the infringing plants.  By analogy,  if Monsanto crashed a car onto private property they could not simply demand the car back without also paying restitution for damages.

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They've been sued for the fact that plants with patented genes have ended up growing on their property, dude.

Have they been sued for just one plant? Because that's the only case in which "farmers would be expected to know the origin of EVERY seed", the way you claimed.

Besides, farmers do know the origin of every seed they plant. Farming is a precise, high stakes industry. They don't just drop whatever corn they find laying around into the ground, and hope for the best. When Monsanto's corn ends up being used as seed on a large farm, that's by design, not accident.

It is not a ridiculous claim. A farmer cannot control the wind or what blows onto his property with that wind. If Monsanto wants to exercise strict control over its intellectual property rights it should be required to reimburse the farmer for expenses incurred in removing the infringing plants.

I agree. Monsanto should reimburse farmers for any extra cost, beyond normal operations. Now the question is, what extra cost is there? Let's get something straight: Monsanto doesn't want those plants removed. It doesn't want to stop the farmers from merrily harvesting and selling the crops that grow on them. They just want farmers to not re-seed last year's harvest, when cross-pollination happens. They just want them to use non-GMO seeds (or, if they want GMO seeds, pay for them).

The reason why Courts didn't order Monsanto to cover the costs of farmers having to buy the non-GMO seeds, is because that's not an extra cost. If they just want seeds that are in the same condition as their own crop from last year, that's a direct exchange, at no extra cost. The extra cost comes from buying treated seeds, which farmers want to do because it's good practice, not because Monsanto wants them to.

As an aside, the best non-GM corn seeds cost $150/50lbs bag, and seed 3 acres (I'm no farmer, but as far as I know, this is what non-GM farmers usually buy, for seed, they don't use their own crops). Last year's seeds (which is what the farmers getting sued presumably want to use) cost $60/bag. If by any chance there's an extra cost in that (when you subtract the cost of not selling some of your own corn at .50 cents/lb + the cost of preserving it through the winter in the right conditions), it's negligible.

Monsanto's seeds of course cost a lot more (~$300/bag). That's what might motivate farmers to try and get around paying for them. Not the unrelated desire to re-seed their own crops, even if they're not cross-pollinated.

Edited by Nicky

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Nicky: Farmers in general know one side of a seed's lineage; the maternal side.

If they reuse their seeds at all then the paternal side is a mystery; it's all airborne.

And perhaps "every plant" was too strong. . . If we're really going THAT route. . .

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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They just want farmers to not re-seed last year's harvest, when cross-pollination happens.

 

I do think that this is a pretty nutty desire of monsanto. Let's say that I made a company working with humans, where I could cure huntington's disease by inserting a new gene of my own invention. It sure seems like that would be a great thing, and that I should profit from selling this gene to prospective parents, even those who don't have huntingtons. Should I be able to place breeding restrictions on the people who I help by introducing this gene? Obviously not. As the plants themselves are not the property of monsanto, I see no reason to claim that a natural function of the plants (breeding) should be restricted by monsanto.

 

Note: I believe monsanto is actually rendering plants sterile using these genes. While I find this behavior irksome, it should not be illegal. If Monsanto doesn't want the plants reproducing, it's on their shoulders to make sure they can't breed, not the farmers.

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